TIFF 2017: Chappaquiddick

I contemplated walking out on Chappaquiddick before it even started.

Those who’ve been following TIFF this year may know that the festival chose this year to experiment with assigned seating for their Roy Thomson Hall and Princess of Wales screenings. I really hope they don’t try it again.

The Roy Thomson Hall screen looks surprisingly tiny from the second to last row of the furthest balcony. I know because that’s where I got stuck sitting despite arriving nearly two hours early and waiting near the front of the line. From that distance, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy or even follow a complex political drama. I was afraid it would be like trying to watch my neighbour’s TV from a living room across the street.

It turns out I was able to follow the film just fine but I’m not nearly as confident in my review of Chappaquiddick as I am in my scathing review of the assigned seating policy. Following a complex political drama from that distance takes concentration and every time someone takes a bite of popcorn or unwraps a candy counts as a distraction that threatens to take me out of the movie.

I’m still pretty sure that director John Curran (Tracks, The Painted Veil) intended his docudrama about Ted Kennedy and his team’s handling of the drowning of aide Mary Jo Kopechne to be far more gripping than it turned out to be. Jason Clarke does a pretty good Kennedy and Kate Mara is heartbreaking in Kopechne’s terrible final hours. Ed Helms is especially good as Kennedy’s cousin, lawyer, and conscience. But there’s something missing.

Or maybe I missed it. Maybe that missing element that would have made Chappaquiddick truly powerful was a line that was uttered while my neighbour distracted me with a coughing fit or by checking their phone. Probably though, the missing element is truth. There’s just so much that we don’t know about the Chappaquiddick incident and so much of what happens onscreen is conjecture. The story feels incomplete and maybe that’s the point. It just makes for an interesting but ultimately unsatisfying and forgettable movie.

 

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17 thoughts on “TIFF 2017: Chappaquiddick

  1. Jay

    I’m sorry it was such a disappointing experience for you. The TIFF lineups are legendary and I’ve now been to probably a couple dozen festivals and never seen anything like them anywhere else. It takes forever for them to load a “theatre” the size of RTH and they rely on people being there quite early in order for the process to start as early as necessary. The people who get there so far in advance obviously need to be rewarded with the better seats. And if they’re sticking with the assigned seat thing, it needs to be across the board so we can just take the lining up out of the TIFF equation.

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  2. Birgit

    I remember my dad talking about this and how ted Kennedy was Persona Non Grata in the 1970’s due to this. I believe he had to silence her and acted on impulse. There is a cover-up and he is a Kennedy so the 2 go hand in hand. This sounds like a movie i would like to see and also see if I agree with your assessment. Of course, I probably won’t see the film until it comes out for rent

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    1. Matt Post author

      It might be a while before anyone gets to see it.It doesn’t seem to even have a release date yet.
      The movie doesn’t offer much of a motive for him to want her silenced. There’ve been a lot of rumours of an affair but the movie seems to debunk this.

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  3. Jane Lurie

    Sounds like being in the front of the line didn’t help you getting a good assigned seat. I do find it annoying to have to line up so early at the Mill Valley FF, but we always get a good seat. I think I like to be rewarded for making the effort rather than taking my chances of being assigned!

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    1. Matt Post author

      That’s the main thing, I feel that you don’t really have much control of your own destiny with assigned seating.At least you have some control over how early you decide to start lining up.Line ups are annoying but feel more fair.
      Also,I amstillhalf-considering going to Mill Valley this year.It would be my first time.

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  4. tubularsock

    Matt, Tubularsock lost interest in the Kennedy story once you admitted, “I was afraid it would be like trying to watch my neighbour’s TV from a living room across the street.”

    Tubularsock contacted Jill and Fred Corning to alert them to close their blinds in the evening.

    Just a reminder, The Neighborhood Watch Program
    was created with other priorities in mind, Matt!

    As for the cell phones and candy/popcorn eating and noise reminded Tubularsock of the scene in the God Bless America (2012) movie when they shot up the theater. If only!

    It seems like all the Kennedy movies somebody dies and Tubularsock already knows
    who ………………

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  5. Pingback: TIFF’s Famous Dates | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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